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Andrew (front center) performs weekly with ComedySportz in Portland, Oregon. All shows are currently streamed online with performers appearing from their homes.
It can be hard to find hope during difficult times, so I wanted to offer a glimmer of light in the darkness of this COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the steep toll, I have been moved by the spirit of resilience, creativity and adaptability shown by our customers, employees and friends.
I bring an unconventional perspective. Despite being a co-founder of TeamSnap, I never went to business school. Instead, I took improv classes. Over the past 20 years I’ve performed in thousands of improv shows, taught many hundreds of students and facilitated applied improv training for countless companies. In fact, we built TeamSnap’s culture on the foundational principles of improv: cooperation … adaptability … flexibility … listening …“yes and.” Improv has been the secret sauce that helps TeamSnap react gracefully to unexpected challenges in an uncertain world.
There’s no script for a pandemic. No playbook, no company manual, no self-help book can tell us how to act. We’re all improvising every day.
What I’m seeing from our customers today is an embrace of these same improv principles. There’s no script for a pandemic. No playbook, no company manual, no self-help book can tell us how to act. We’re all improvising every day. And just as saying “Yes and!” helps to build better improv scenes, that same spirit is helping all of us to build each other up, adapt to shifting challenges and get through this together. It’s truly extraordinary.
Our teams have moved practices to video using Zoom and TeamSnap. Our sports organization partners are bringing in virtual training tools and moving fundraising, donations and summer registration entirely online. My CrossFit gym is broadcasting home workouts and helping to make sure that everyone in the community has enough food and supplies. Companies and families are adapting to the sudden work-from-home reality with humor and understanding. Instead of letting the unexpected defeat us, we’re rising to the challenge with adaptability and creativity.
Once people begin to truly listen, to cherish the unknown, to laugh at mistakes and to love saying yes to crazy ideas, magic happens.
Most students are fearful on their first day of improv class, so I always remind them that they already know how to improvise—there’s no script for life. Learning improv is merely the practice of opening one’s heart and one’s mind to embrace the unexpected. During my career I’ve seen how improv can fundamentally change lives and change organizations. Once people begin to truly listen, to cherish the unknown, to laugh at mistakes and to love saying yes to crazy ideas, magic happens. That’s what’s occurring in the world today.
The worst of this pandemic is likely still ahead, and I don’t want to minimize the terrible toll on lives, businesses and families. But watching how our customers and friends are showing resilience and flexibility while improvising through this experience leaves me hopeful for the future. What we learn together during this time will make our families and businesses more connected and more adaptable long after the virus is gone.